Monday, March 2, 2015

Elizabeth, Elspeth, Betsy, and Bess

I briefly considered writing a post about sauces but my research gave me a headache. I will tell you that many French sauces have geographical names (Hollandaise, Lyonnaise, Bordelaise, Bourgignonne) but even though a few English sauces have geographical names (Worcestershire, Oxford, Yorkshire) it is far more common among the English to speak of sauces as white, red, green, brown, and so forth.

Be that as it may, a family friend told us the other day that one of her great-great-grandmothers was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian and that someone else who had “done the research” had told her that her family were direct descendants of Queen Elizabeth.

Whoa! Wait just a minute, Nellie (not her name) . I, being the sort of fool who always rushes in where angels fear to tread, immediately mentioned that Queen Elizabeth was (a) known as The Virgin Queen, (b) never married, and (c) didn’t have any children. This bit of information didn’t faze my friend, however. She ended this particular thread of conversation by replying, “Well, I don’t know about any of that, but there was more than one Queen Elizabeth.”

Of course there was. Queen Elizabeth One and Queen Elizabeth Two. But she couldn’t have meant the current one, could she, and now be claiming to be a Mountbatten-Windsor?

No.

But this particular conversation spurred me on to do some research of my own, and my friend is absolutely correct. There have been a whole slew slough passel bunch of Queen Elizabeths or Queens Elizabeth or whatever they should be called. So I thought I would make today’s post about them.

In no particular order, they are:

*Elizabeth I of England (1533–1603) , last Tudor monarch over England, reigned 1558–1603
*Elizabeth II (born 1926) of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth Realms, reigning since 1952
*Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1900–2002) , queen consort of King George VI, queen dowager and queen mother of the United Kingdom, born Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
*Elizabeth Woodville (1437–1492) , queen consort, queen dowager and queen mother of England
*Elizabeth of York (1466–1503) , queen consort of England
*Elizabeth de Burgh (1289–1327) , queen consort of Scotland
*Elisabeth of Bavaria (1876–1965) , queen consort, queen dowager and queen mother of the Belgians
*Elizabeth the Cuman (1239/1240-1290) , queen consort and regent of Hungary
*Elizabeth of Sicily, Queen of Hungary (1261–1303) , queen consort of Hungary
*Elisabeth of Bohemia (1292–1330) , queen consort of Bohemia
*Elisabeth Richeza of Poland (1286–1335) , queen consort of Bohemia and Poland
*Elizabeth of Poland, Queen of Hungary (1305–1380) , queen consort of Hungary, regent of Poland
*Elizabeth of Bosnia (1340–1387) , queen consort and queen dowager of Hungary and Poland, queen mother of Hungary
*Elizabeth Granowska (c. 1372 – 1420) , queen consort of Poland
*Elisabeth of Habsburg (1436–1505) , queen consort, queen dowager and queen mother of Poland
*Elizabeth of Austria (1526–1545) , queen consort of Poland
*Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia (1596–1662) , the "Winter Queen", briefly queen consort of Bohemia, wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine
*Elisabeth of Bavaria (1837–1898) , queen consort of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia
*Elizabeth of Holstein-Rendsburg (c. 1300-before 1340) , junior queen consort of Denmark, wife of Eric Christoffersen
*Elisabeth of Bavaria-Ingolstadt (c. 1370 – 1435) , queen consort of France
*Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of France (1554–1592) , queen consort of France
*Elisabeth of Bavaria, Queen of Germany (c. 1227 – 1273) , queen consort of Germany, Jerusalem and Sicily
*Elizabeth of Carinthia, Queen of Germany (c. 1262 – 1312) , queen consort of Germany
*Elizabeth of Pomerania (1347–1393) , queen consort and queen dowager of the Romans, Bohemia, Italy and Burgundy
*Elisabeth of Nuremberg (1358–1411) , queen consort of the Romans
*Elizabeth of Luxembourg (1409–1442) , queen consort of the Romans, Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia
*Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern (1715–1797) , queen consort and queen dowager of Prussia
*Elisabeth Ludovika of Bavaria (1801–1873) , queen consort of Prussia
*Elisabeth of Romania (1894–1956) , queen consort of the Hellenes (Greece)
*Elizabeth Kaʻahumanu (c. 1768 – 1832) , queen consort and queen regent of Hawaiʻi
*Elizabeth Kīnaʻu (c. 1805 – 1839) , queen consort, queen regent and dowager queen of Hawaiʻi
*Elisiv of Kiev (1025-c. 1067) , also known as Elisaveta Yaroslavna, queen consort of Norway
*Elisabeth of Wied (1843–1916) , queen consort and queen dowager of Romania
*Elisabeth Therese of Lorraine (1711–1741) , queen consort of Sardinia, Cyprus, Jerusalem and Armenia
*Elizabeth of Hungary, Queen of Serbia (1255–1313) , queen consort of Serbia
*Elizabeth of Carinthia, Queen of Sicily (1298–1352) , queen consort and regent of Sicily
*Elisabeth of France (1602–1644) , queen consort of Spain and Portugal
*Elisabeth of Swabia (1203–1235) , also known as Beatrice of Swabia, queen consort of Castile and León
*Elizabeth of Aragon (1271–1336) , queen consort, queen dowager and queen mother of Portugal, also known as Saint Elizabeth of Portugal
*Elisabeth of Valois (1545–1568) , queen consort of Spain
*Elisabeth Farnese (1692–1766) , queen consort, queen dowager and queen mother of Spain

Forty-one in all. It would have been just perfect if there had been 42. Which one of those my friend is related to I will let her figure out on her own.

There are also a couple of fictional Queen Elizabeths or Queens Elizabeth or whatever they should be called, and I don’t want to leave them out:

*Elizabeth III of the House of Winton, monarch of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, in David Weber’s Honorverse books
*Elizabeth X, aka “Liz 10”, fictional queen of Starship UK in the Doctor Who episodes “The Beast Below” and “The Pandorica Opens”

As Paul Harvey used to say on the radio, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

Fittingly, I end today’s post with a riddle in the form of a nursery rhyme from Mother Goose:

Elizabeth, Elspeth, Betsy, and Bess,
They all went together to seek a bird’s nest;
They found a bird’s nest with five eggs in,
They all took one, and left four in.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Douglas Adams, paging Mr. Douglas Adams

Here are the answers to the poetry pop quiz in my last post and a few more answers thrown in for good measure:

1. “I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died” by Emily Dickinson.
2. “Fable” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
3. “Dream Variations” by Langston Hughes.
4. “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou.

The answer to the question “Where’s Waldo?” (which was asked in the title of the poetry pop quiz post) was 2 (Ralph Waldo Emerson) . He was there all the time.

The answer to the question “What is The Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything?” (which wasn’t asked at all) is 42.

42 is a domino game played mostly in Texas.

42 is the age of the youngest president of the United States (and it was not John F. Kennedy) .

42 is the number that baseball player Jackie Robinson wore on his jersey throughout his Major League career.

In Lewis Carroll's Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Rule Forty-two is “All persons more than a mile high to leave the court”. Specifically:


At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his notebook, called out “Silence!” and read out from his book, “Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.

Everybody looked at Alice.

“I’m not a mile high,” said Alice.

“You are,” said the King.

“Nearly two miles high,” added the Queen.

“Well, I sha’n’t go, at any rate,” said Alice: “besides, that’s not a regular rule: you invented it just now.”

“It’s the oldest rule in the book,” said the King.

“Then it ought to be Number One,” said Alice.


I must say, I quite agree with Alice.

According to a woman named Connie Robertson in A Dictionary of Quotations (1998, p. 447) , Voltaire once said, “England has forty-two religions and only two sauces.”

42 is a lot of things. For just some of them, click here.

It will make your head swim.

This post is the blogging equivalent of the Theater of the Absurd, a term that can be traced (sort of) to “The Myth of Sisyphus” by Albert Camus, which was written in -- wait for it -- 1942 .

It is only fitting, therefore, that we end this post with the song “Mairzy Doats” which was written in 1943. Here is little Janet Lennon, youngest of The Four Lovely Lennon Sisters, singing it on The Lawrence Welk Show in 1957 (1:39) .

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pop quiz, or Where’s Waldo?

Here are four poems for your perusal.
Please tell me who they’re by. (Refusal
To comply with my request will make me sad.)
I am a poet too, you know.
(Not one of mine is shown below
Because mine go from bad to verse;
Trust me, they get worse and worse.)
Tell me the poet,
And for extra credit,
Tell me the title too.
All four poets are American.
Ready? You may now begin.
(Go, my children, go and sin no more make me glad.)


1.
I heard a Fly buzz - when I died -
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air -
Between the Heaves of Storm -

The Eyes around - had wrung them dry -
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset - when the King
Be witnessed - in the Room -

I willed my Keepsakes - Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable - and then it was
There interposed a Fly -

With Blue - uncertain - stumbling Buzz -
Between the light - and me -
And then the Windows failed - and then
I could not see to see -


2.
The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel;
And the former called the latter “Little Prig.”
Bun replied,
“You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it’s no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I’m not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.
I’ll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ: all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut.”


3.
To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me -
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening...
A tall, slim tree...
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.


4.
The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.


P.S. -- Please do not cheat. Either you know the answers or you don’t. The correct answers will appear in my next post.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Loquacious twit

No, not me, silly. W.S. Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan fame.


Gilbert














Sullivan
















Since reader Kate in Tauranga, New Zealand, found the words of I Am The Ruler of the Queen’s Navy from H.M.S. Pinafore very droll, I thought she and others of you might also enjoy these tongue-twisting lyrics from The Pirates of Penn’s Aunts Penzance:

I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news,
(bothered for a rhyme)
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

I’m very good at integral and differential calculus;
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

I know our mythic history, King Arthur’s and Sir Caradoc’s;
I answer hard acrostics, I’ve a pretty taste for paradox,
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous;
I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
I know the croaking chorus from The Frogs of Aristophanes!
Then I can hum a fugue of which I’ve heard the music’s din afore,
(bothered for a rhyme)
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.

Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
And tell you ev’ry detail of Caractacus’s uniform:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

In fact, when I know what is meant by “mamelon” and “ravelin”,
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I’m more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by “commissariat”,
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery –
In short, when I’ve a smattering of elemental strategy –
(bothered for a rhyme)
You’ll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee.

For my military knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.


Whew! I rest my case.

I could never write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform, but I can tell you that Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore was probably Jewish -- just like Lady Rose’s new husband in Downton Abbey.

I mean, why else would Gilbert have made her sing, “Sweet Little Buttercup, Oy!”?

Here is William Penn without his aunts:


Friday, February 20, 2015

Eminently qualified

My English blogging friend Neil T., whose cyberspace moniker is Yorkshire Pudding, has made noises of late that his beloved Yorkshire should have a vote for independence just as Scotland did recently. I suggested that if the new nation he longs for becomes a reality he might be named Chancellor of the Exchequer or perhaps even Minister of Public Education since he has a 30-year career as a teacher of English in his résumé. However, his heart is set on being The Lord High Executioner.

Don’t be so fast to say, “Preposterous!” because this is not such a far-fetched idea. Your honor, I believe Yorkshire Pudding is eminently qualified for the position. In fact, Gilbert and Sullivan presented us with an impressive precedent in H.M.S. Pinafore:

When I was a lad I served a term
As office boy to an attorney’s firm
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor
And I polished up the handle of the big front door
He polished up the handle of the big front door
I polished up that handle so carefully
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy
He polished up that handle so carefully
That now he is the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy


As office boy I made such a mark
That they gave me the post of a junior clerk
I served the writs with a smile so bland
And I copied all the letters in a big round hand
He copied all the letters in a big round hand
I copied all the letters in a hand so free
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy
He copied all the letters in a hand so free
That now he is the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy


In serving writs I made such a name
That an articled clerk I soon became
I wore clean collars and a brand-new suit
For the Pass Examination at the Institute
For the Pass Examination at the Institute
And that Pass Examination did so well for me
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy
That Pass Examination did so well for he
That now he is the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy


Of legal knowledge I acquired such a grip
That they took me into the partnership
And that junior partnership I ween
Was the only ship that I ever had seen
Was the only ship that he ever had seen
But that kind of ship so suited me
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy
But that kind of ship so suited he
That now he is the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy


I grew so rich that I was sent
By a pocket borough into Parliament
I always voted at my party’s call
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all
No, he never thought of thinking for himself at all
I thought so little, they rewarded me
By making me the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy
He thought so little, they rewarded he
By making him the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy


Now, landsmen all, whoever you may be
If you want to rise to the top of the tree
If your soul isn’t fettered to an office stool
Be careful to be guided by this golden rule
Be careful to be guided by this golden rule
Stick close to your desks and never go to sea
And you all may be Rulers of the Queen’s Navy
Stick close to your desks and never go to sea
And you all may be Rulers of the Queen’s Navy


Given this incontrovertible evidence, Your Honor, I submit that Yorkshire Pudding's 30-year career as a teacher of English is the perfect credential for his being named The Lord High Executioner in the saucy new nation of Worcestershire Yorkshire.

Don’t you agree?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

But can you sing it with a rose between your teeth?

I promised to blog about the state song of New Mexico and I am a man of my word.

Wikipedia says that “O Fair New Mexico”, the state song of the U.S. state of New Mexico, was officially selected in 1917. It was adopted as the state song by an act of the New Mexico legislature, approved on March 14, 1917, as signed by Governor Washington E. Lindsey.

Wikipedia then tells us two almost unbelievable bits of information. First, the author, Elizabeth Garrett, was the daughter of former Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett, the man who killed Billy the Kid. Second, the musical genre of “O Fair New Mexico” is classified as a tango.

I learn something new every single day. Today I learned two things.

Here are the lyrics of “O Fair New Mexico”:

1. Under a sky of azure, where balmy breezes blow,
Kissed by the golden sunshine, is Nuevo México.
Home of the Montezuma, with fiery hearts a glow,
State of the deeds historic, is Nuevo México.

Chorus:

O, fair New Mexico, we love, we love you so
Our hearts with pride o’er flow, no matter where we go,
O, fair New Mexico, we love, we love you so,
The grandest state to know, New Mexico.

2. Rugged and high sierras, with deep canyons below;
Dotted with fertile valleys, is Nuevo México.
Fields full of sweet alfalfa, richest perfumes bestow,
State of the apple blossoms, is Nuevo México.

(Chorus)

3. Days that are full of heart-dreams, nights when the moon hangs low;
Beaming its benediction, o’er Nuevo México.
Land with its bright mañana, coming through weal and woe;
State of our esperanza, is Nuevo México.

(Chorus)


I must confess that when I think of New Mexico, fields full of sweet alfalfa and orchards full of apple blossoms do not leap to mind. Sorry. Rather, I think of deserts and pottery makers and Carlsbad Caverns.

But just to prove that the state song is indeed a tango, here is an audio file of “O Fair New Mexico”. Unfortunately, it includes one of the worst saxophones I have ever heard in my life.

Friday, February 13, 2015

No bit of trivia is too trivial for this here blogger

Today’s word is friggatriskaidekaphobia.

Actually, it isn’t, but I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

For today’s post I am indebted to our old pal friend nemesis Wikipedia and also to Ms. Patricia Schado of Jacksonville, Arkansas, who wrote the following comment on my previous post:

I was born in Texas (I don’t know a word or the melody of the Texas state song.) I have lived in Arkansas since 1950 and have absorbed the melody and a few words of our state song and, sorry to say, they mean nought. My home was in New Mexico from 1940-1950. I will spare you the recounting of the beautiful state song of New Mexico, the melody and all the words of which are forever etched into my brain and soul.

I know a passive-aggressive challenge when I see one, and if the melody and all the words of the beautiful state song of New Mexico are forever etched into Ms. Schado’s brain and soul, they need to be etched into ours as well, n’est-ce pas? No bit of trivia is too trivial for this here blogger, no ma’am, no sir, no way, Ho-zay (as they also probably say in the great and sovereign state of New Mexico).

With that having been said, let us proceed.

Before we get to New Mexico, however, we must pause in Ms. Schado’s honor and consider her current state of residence, Arkansas, which boasts not merely one but four state songs. I kid you not. They include a state anthem (“Arkansas”) , the lyrics of which I find charming; two state songs written for the 150th anniversary of Arkansas statehood (“Arkansas (You Run Deep In Me)” and “Oh, Arkansas” , both of which were also named official state songs by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1987) ; and a state historical song (“The Arkansas Traveler” , which has at least five different sets of words, one set of which begins "I’m bringin’ home a baby bumblebee, Won’t my mommy be so proud of me!") .

Everything in the preceding paragraph is true, and I urge you to check out the highlighted links for yourself to get the full effect.

As the head of the parole board said to Nicholas Cage in Raising Arizona on more than one occasion, “Well, okay then.”

Moving right along, let us hasten on to our stated topic, New Mexico’s state song.

Oops, I see by the old clock on the wall that we have run out of time for today and we will have to wait until next time for New Mexico. Stay tuned.